DISCLAIMER: This blog was written before I became a 5-point Calvinist. In this blog entry I quoted A.W. Tozer saying, “it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.” Tozer is an Arminian and therefore believes that the atonement is not limited to the elect, but that the cross “would” set every man free if only they make the free-will choice to come to God.
John Piper says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” But the capacity for this manner of enjoyment is something impossible for man in our fallen state. Our grandfather Adam has planted in all of us a tendency to shy away from the presence of God. The flesh strives against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.
Though it is impossible for a sinful being to survive in the Presence of God, yet it is our purpose to live in the Presence. This is the significance of Mark 15:38: “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (ESV). It was God’s initiative that tore the veil. And it was Christ’s sacrifice which enables us to enter the Presence.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22, ESV)
Because Christ is our high priest, we can have “full assurance of faith.” And not only that, but we have the evidence of the Spirit. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:15-16, ESV). What son doesn’t know he has been adopted? (Moby, who doesn’t think a Christian can really know he’s saved, needs to read these passages.)
A.W. Tozer writes,
Everything in the New Testament accords with this Old Testament picture. Ransomed men need no longer pause in fear to enter the Holy of Holies. God wills that we should push on into His presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held; it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day. (The Pursuit of God, 36)
Is this the abundant life that Jesus came to give us? And can we really experience it for ourselves while we’re still walking in this case of meat?
At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His presence. That type of Christianity which happens now to be the vogue knows this Presence only in theory. It fails to stress the Christian’s privilege of present realization. According to its teachings we are in the presence of God positionally, and nothing is said about the need to experience that Presence actually…Ignoble contentment takes the place of burning zeal. We are satisfied to rest in our judicial possessions and, for the most part, we bother ourselves very little about the absence of personal experience. (37)
Children, if we are doubting our adoption, it’s because we haven’t known the Father’s Presence. And the Presence is something we’re supposed to know.
…the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen. The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are overrun today with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the wonder that is God. And yet, thus to penetrate, to push in sensitive living experience into the holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God. (43)
Tozer says that there is a veil in our hearts which separates us from the Presence of God today, and it is the veil of Self.
It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.
To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins–egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion–are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. (45)
But this veil is so much a part of us, that it can “be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. We may as well try to instruct leprosy out of our system” (46). Only God can rend the veil.
In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.
There can be no self-surgery here. Only our Divine Physician can handle this scalpel. And as John Owen says, we must beware of using our reasoning and rationalization to produce our own peace when the Holy Spirit has not pronounced such a peace for our souls. We must let Him work in our hearts and have His way in us.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)
Within the veil
I now would come
Within the Holy Place
To look upon Thy face
I see such Beauty there
None other can compare
I worship Thee, my Lord
Within the veil (Ruth Dryden, © 1978 Genesis Music)